Part of my recent blogging ‘disappearing act’ is because I made my Mumbai acting ‘debut’!
Most would know that stage and film is my partner’s profession.
Few would know that there was a time when I flirted with this too. Waaaay back 30 years ago, along with regular school, I also attended Prairie Theatre Exchange‘s theatre school. Acted in a couple plays, did a TV commercial, taught drama education as a summer job and even landed a Drama Award.
No I wasn’t a drama queen – just enjoyed stage work. You could say I came by it naturally as I grew up hanging out backstage as my mother donned costumes and make-up to go under the bright lights to sing her operatic heart out at the concert hall.
However I left that all behind decades ago until a friend persuaded me to help out a local Bengali community theatre group with a play on Swami Vivekananda. An amateur production with a director who has spent 20+ years writing & putting on plays raising charitable funds for both a cancer patients and girls education – worthy causes indeed!
What began as ‘just a couple rehearsals’ and ‘a few lines’ introducing Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble) somehow morphed into four scenes. I also quietly didn’t let most people know until too late – at 3 hours, 70% Bengali / 30% English followed by another 30 mins of speeches… it isn’t a play for everyone. While in keeping with traditional theatre, not exactly the snappy entertaining 90 min play today’s audience is accustomed too.
It was a remarkable experience and I wasn’t the lone ‘firangi‘ roped into the play. For those not familiar with the Swami Vivekananda story, he came to fame in 1893 when he spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago – bursting the bubble of Christian missionaries depictions of life in India and its religious philosophies. Much of the 2nd act of the play was devoted to Western interest in Vivekananda, his teachings through the eyes of his followers from the US to the UK.
There were also a few – ahem – unexpected twists (including a costume crisis) however overall it was an interesting experience and felt good to be back on stage after so long. It was also delightful to meet so many committed amateur actors who took their involvement very seriously. For all involved, they juggled rehearsals with their ‘real’ lives – finding ways to devote time and effort to the production.
I’m also pleased to share 3 lac (nearly USD 5,000) was raised! Bravo!
I’m still waiting for the group photos – it was a large cast! Don’t be surprised if there is another post or two about my recent stage adventure.
Anyone else have a drama tale to tell?